4 observations: Pacers rocked for 2nd straight game 139-119 by Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The Pacers fell 139-119 to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena, losing their third of four games on their western road trip and their second straight by at least 20 after falling 137-114 to the Kings at Sacramento on Wednesday.

The Pacers fell to 12-10. The Jazz improved to 14-11.

Here are four observations

The Pacers came all the way back, then faded and never recovered

As they have so many times this season, the Pacers fell behind by double figures and climbed their way out of that hole. But this time, they fell immediately back into the hole and couldn't dig back out of it a second time.

The Pacers fell behind 41-26 with 9:57 to go in the second quarter and then scratched and clawed until they tied it at 54. They were still down 10 with 6:13 to go in the quarter and in the next two minutes went on a 13-3 run to tie it with 4:12 to go in the half.

It took the Jazz just over a minute to score seven straight points, however, and they kept pouring it on the rest of the half. They went on a 17-0 run before the Pacers answered and they outscored them 21-5 in the last four minutes to take a 75-59 halftime advantage. The Pacers never got within single digits in the second half.

The buckets the Jazz got in that stretch came entirely too easily. Of the seven field goals the Jazz made on the 17-0 run, six were layups or dunks and the seventh was a 3.

"There were a couple of defensive mistakes that led to easy baskets that led to instant momentum," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Against a team this skilled and this deep, defense has to be precise. When we exerted leverage and force on the game, we made them uncomfortable. But it was too fleeting. It was not happening enough."

The Jazz shot 63.4% from the field in the first half and 55.4% for the game, so their continued offensive efficiency made a comeback impossible.

The Pacers had no solution for Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen is becoming a problem for which there is no apparent solution. He's a 7-foot, 240-pound small forward who is more than comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and shooting the 3. He's not a pick-and-roll ball handler yet, but that's the next stage in his evolution and he's perfectly dangerous enough as is. He entered Friday's game averaging 22.2 points per game, shooting 53.1% from the field and 39.5% from beyond the 3-point arc with 60 made 3-pointers.

The Pacers started 6-4 wing Buddy Hield on him because someone had to defend center Jarred Vanderbilt in the paint and power forward Kelly Olynyk inside and out. The 6-11 Myles Turner and 6-9 Jalen Smith took those assignments, respectively, and Markkanen gave Hield and just about anyone else the Pacers threw at him trouble. He had 16 points by halftime on 6 of 10 shooting and finished with 24 points on 8 of 15 shooting and 5 of 9 3-pointers to go with 13 rebounds and three assists.

"Lauri's a really good player," point guard Tyrese Haliburton said. "He's had a really good year so far. Another guy who's going to be in the running for Most Improved. He's been amazing all year to be honest, really taken another step up from what I've seen previously, but no surprise from what he was doing this summer with the (Finnish) national team. Kudos to him. He's been working on his game a ton. He's a mismatch problem for anybody, really."

The Pacers got little shooting out of their guards and wings

The Pacers didn't have a lot of juice for a second comeback in part because they weren't getting much in the way of scoring from their backcourt and wings.

Turner carried the Pacers early and finished with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, by far Indiana's most efficient offensive player. Backup point guard T.J. McConnell scored 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting, but everyone else was a little bit off.

Point guard Tyrese Haliburton scored 14 points, but was 5 of 16 from the field and had a season-low four assists. Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Bennedict Mathurin scored 12, but was 3 of 10. Hield failed to score in double figures and was 2 of 8 from the field, 1 of 4 from 3. Guard Andrew Nembhard picked up his scoring late to finish with 13 points on 4 of 10 shooting Reserve wings Aaron Nesmith and Oshae Brissett were a combined 4 of 11 for 17 points. That led to an overall inefficient shooting night as the Pacers were 40 of 92 from the field as a team (43.5%) and 12 of 34 from beyond the 3-point arc (35.3%).

Carlisle saw it as an issue of a lack of ball movement. Too many quick shots and not enough passes. Considering the Pacers' strength is their connectivity and sharing of the ball, it was an issue that stood out.

"We're not playing with the right intentions moving the ball," Carlisle said. "The things that have gotten us to the point where we've been a surprise team and second in the league in passes, those things failed us tonight. I gotta do a better job of convincing our guys that we've gotta be in that mode."

Haliburton took responsibility for the lack of offensive flow, saying the quick shots came from something he saw in Utah's defense and that he did not successfully change gears fast enough.

"I think it started with me," Haliburton said. "The ball movement stopped. They kind of forced us to play a little more iso ball. We took some tough shots, turned the ball over and didn't really get into our offenses. ... It just felt like we had some matchups that we liked. Kinda went to attack them, just didn't score. When it happens once it's OK, but when it happens two, three, four times in a row, it's probably not OK. ... You see that first shot and it looks good and it feels right, but if it's not going in, that allows a team like that to play in transition. That's similar to what happened in Sac(ramento) as well. We take the first one and it feels good in the moment, but probably not the best shot for the flow of the game."

The Pacers continue to struggle with frontcourt depth

The Pacers have struggled with teams this season who not only started big frontcourts but also bought size and power off the bench. The Jazz fit into that category and the Pacers had problems with that.

Along with 24 points and 13 rebounds from Markkanen, the Jazz also got a combined 18 points and 10 rebounds from Olynyk and Vanderbilt in the starting five. The Pacers had even more problems dealing with 7-foot rookie Walker Kessler, who posted a double-double with 20 points on 7 of 7 shooting and 11 rebounds.

The Pacers tried to counter by playing smaller and it paid some dividends. Backup forward Isaiah Jackson played just three minutes in the first half and 13 for the game and the Pacers didn't use Goga Bitadze or James Johnson. A smaller lineup helped some with perimeter defense but it didn't help much in the paint as the Jazz won the rebound battle 47-35 and outscored the Pacers in the paint 60-46.

The Pacers still have three games remaining on the road swing, starting with the Portland TrailBlazers on Sunday, and need to regroup to keep this skid from turning into a free-fall.

"It's a difficult road trip, it's long," Carlisle said. "We're at the part of the road trip where we really need to dig deep."

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers vs. Jazz: Pacers fall 139-119 for second straight blowout loss